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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/8/11

How About a Spring Peace Offensive in Afghanistan?

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Minority ethnic groups have expressed concern that President Karzai, a Pashtun, seems inclined to cut a deal with the Taliban, who are also Pashtuns, in a nation where the Pashtun ethnic group is the largest and spreads well across the border with Pakistan.


There are suggestions that some kind of serious peace talks might be set up in Turkey, which is probably the ideal place, given it's an independent nation with a moderate Muslim government and good connections to the west.


All this is going on in the midst of the so-called "Arab Spring," a wide-spread re-shuffling of political and repressive forces throughout the Middle East, Southwest Asia and North Africa. Due to its history in the regions, the United States is an intricate party in this epic struggle.


At the same time, the Obama Administration is about to change its top war policy leadership. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is leaving. Who will replace him is a very big question. Will President Obama continue to keep the momentum of the Bush war policies going or will he, finally, make some kind of break and appoint a leader with some grasp of negotiated peace as a real option for national foreign policy?


He's also going to replace Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs. Again, is it remotely possible the replacement might be someone willing and able to call a spade a spade and walk the Pentagon back from its current commitment to saving face over negotiating some kind of practical peace.


Talk of moving Leon Panetta to Defense and the counter-insurgency genius in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, to the CIA only suggests more of the same. So maybe those of us in the peace movement shouldn't hold our breath.


As American citizens watch the profound upheavals of the Arab Spring, it should be clear change is in the air. Leaders like President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are saying we can no longer have "business as usual" in places like Egypt and Libya. Given we have been so historically instrumental in so many of these now bankrupt foreign governments and their policies, it seems to make sense for the United States to make itself the same pledge. No more business as usual; it's a great time to do some re-assessing.


In Afghanistan, we could concede the point to the Taliban and admit the obvious about our military occupation, then use our exit as a negotiating tool to facilitate a workable Taliban participation in the Afghan government. In the end, it's their country.

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I'm a 72-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and political (more...)

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